Clayton Mathews, Ph.D.
Sebastian Family Professor for Diabetes Research,
Department of Pathology, Immunology and Laboratory Medicine
The University of Florida College of Medicine
Ph.D., University of Georgia
Genetics\Type 1 Diabetes, Immunology, Islet Biology, Clinical Therapeutics/New Technology
Dr. Mathews’ studies have forged a new path in the understanding of autoimmune diabetes. While the majority of the field focuses on identifying defects in cells of the immune system, the guiding hypothesis of Dr. Mathews’ research is that insulin secreting pancreatic beta cells are active contributors to the autoimmune process in T1D. The initial publications from Dr. Mathews demonstrated that pancreatic islets had down regulated self-defenses, and that this reduction was important in the initiation of diabetes. The extension of this work strongly supported the hypothesis that beta cells play an active role in the pathogenesis of diabetes. The findings demonstrated that islets varied in their resistance to autoimmune destruction and further that islets from different donors ranged from highly susceptible to extremely resistant to damage. These novel findings proved to be influential because, prior to this paper, there was no evidence suggesting that beta cells could resist autoimmune destruction.
Key Research Advances and Innovation
Dr. Mathews’ investigations have provided the proof of concept for many subsequent therapy studies by both his and other groups. These findings also led Dr. Mathews a postulate that there are genetic factors expressed at the level of the pancreatic islet that provide resistance to autoimmune diabetes. His successive publications have supported this hypothesis and have identified a gene (mt-Nd2) that is responsible for protection as well as to the identification of the signaling pathways that can be blocked inhibiting beta cell death without modifying beta cell insulin secretory activity. The discovery of genes that pancreatic islets employ to ward off autoimmune effector mechanisms have important ramifications for transplantation, stem cell engineering, and future genetic and pharmacological diabetes preventative therapies.
Dr. Mathews is an investigator on the nPOD Project. His current study is researching Islet resistance to Type 1 diabetes. More…